FirstEnergy Stadium’s makeover and the Browns’ big weekend

When Jimmy Haslam bought the Cleveland Browns last October, he promised changes. This past February, Cleveland Browns Stadium was renamed FirstEnergy Stadium. Next, the new regime completely redecorated its headquarters in Berea. Now, it’s the stadium’s turn for some redecorating.

Eventually.

While the financing of the $120 million dollar project has yet to be completely ironed out, it’s apparent that the Browns plan to take on most of the cost, with taxpayers likely to pay the rest. Leila Atassi of Cleveland.com reported that the Browns have acquired a loan from the NFL that will cover part of the cost as well. On a side note, I’ve always wanted the Browns to come up with something that would take advantage of that lovely NFL G4 program. It looks like that wish has finally come true, and I’m positively giddy.

For those who have been out of the country or living under a rock since Wednesday afternoon, here’s the website from the Browns explaining the whole deal. Here are some thoughts from the Browns’ brass. Unfortunately, no orange ties were on display for the event, but Banner was sporting a piece of flair. That stylish devil. Of course, Jim Donovan paced the group in class as the only one on stage even wearing a tie. Apparently, business casual is so “in”  for stadium re-design announcements these days.

The proposed improvements will be massive for the game day experience downtown, and are much needed. It’s exciting to see the ownership and an energized front office taking big steps right off the bat. In lame man’s terms, those new screens are going to be sick. I kind of freaked out in a public place as I looked at the renderings for the first time. I wasn’t embarrassed.

By the way, the Browns play a football game for the first time in a couple of weeks on Sunday, and it’s a big one. Part deux of the 2013 Battle of Ohio will come to us live from Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati at 1 p.m., and it’s exciting for a multitude of reasons.

With a win, the Browns can hand the Bengals their third straight loss, climb back to the .500 mark, and pull even with Cincinnati in the loss column.

Both sides are similarly strong as far as team defense numbers go. This means that the result of the game will likely come down to which offense can execute best against a good defense. Obviously, the Browns have the edge here because Jason Campbell. The Bengals don’t have the edge because Andy Dalton is terrible. Shockingly, at times. If you Google Dalton’s full name, the third-most popular option is “Andy Dalton sucks”. Naturally, my interest was piqued upon discovering this, and I eventually arrived at this place that is something like heaven.

A corollary to the last paragraph: We all remember when Brandon Weeden was the starter for the Browns, but just as we all expected, Banner and company were already way ahead of him. They had already made an offseason power play to save the season with the signing of Campbell. Bengals Owner/President Mike Brown has never heard of a power play, which is why he too has a webpage dedicated to him by everyone who hates him, which is basically everyone.

Unsurprisingly, Joe Haden has been a great leader of the Browns’ defensive unit. He talked about his upcoming rematch with Cincinnati star wideout A.J. Green with Mary Kay Cabot on Thursday. Haden was humble about the fact that he shut Green down when they first met this season, so that means it’s everyone else’s job to brag for him. T.J. Ward mentions in the same piece that he thinks Lockdown Joe should be Pro Bowl bound. Let’s be honest, Ward and Haden should both be Pro Bowl bound.

It should be said that Haden and Ward haven’t been the only bright spots on what has been an excellent defense to date. The attacking style of Ray Horton has been a blast to watch, and the addition Paul Kruger, Barkevious Mingo and others has made a noticeable difference. Great linebacker play combined with a mostly healthy defensive line has helped the Browns tally the 5th-most sacks in the league this season so far. Sacks are a lot of fun.

There’s no question that Sunday’s match-up with the Bengals will be a great battle. Cincinnati is at the top of the AFC North for a reason, despite all of the rock-solid evidence provided above that they are vastly inferior to the Browns. Meaningful football in mid-November is a beautiful thing, and I can’t wait to be sitting at home in Medina with my Dad watching it unfold.

As for the Cavs, let’s not talk about it right now. See you on Sunday in the Nasty ‘Nati.

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